Carrots store easiest before they are peeled. Sometimes, peeling and chopping carrots is more than you can handle, though. But you can keep carrots, a root vegetable full of antioxidants, fresh after you've cut and peeled them to ensure healthy veggies on your weekday menu.
To get the most shelf life out of peeled or baby carrots, store them in water in a covered container. Alternatively, store them dry in a covered container or resealable plastic bag or wrap them in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. They should last two to three weeks.
Some Storage Tips
Storing carrots in water is one way to keep baby carrots or already peeled carrots fresh. You can't just place peeled carrots in a dish of water and place it in the refrigerator, however.
You can peel them the night or the week before you plan to use them. Then, submerge them in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator and change the water often, according to the Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, a community supported agricultural farm in Tampa, Florida.
Change that water every four to five days because dampness encourages bacteria growth, so leaving your carrots stored in the same water could actually cause them to spoil. When you take them out of the fridge, rinse before you eat. You can keep your carrots stored this way for up to a month.
Make sure you are not storing peeled carrots or other cut vegetables in the fridge next to apples, pears, melons, peaches and bananas, according to the USDA Produce Information Sheet on carrots. These fruits produce ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process and could cause your carrots to go bad prematurely.
Wrapping Your Carrots
Another way to store already peeled or baby carrots is in a vegetable container or a sealed plastic bag. You can also wrap them in plastic or aluminum foil, according to the Iowa State University Extension.
These are good methods to store carrots that you want to pack into weekday lunches, or to keep around for quick snacks. Having ready-to-eat carrots encourages you to eat them as a crunchy snack instead of snacking on something more processed or high in calories, like cookies, potato chips or pretzels.
They're also easy to pop into a pot of boiling water for dinner. Raw or cooked carrots are an easy, convenient way to boost your daily vegetable intake.
If you're wondering whether you should store carrots in a fridge or cupboard, make sure you refrigerate them. The proper carrot storage temperature is 32 degrees F, according to the USDA.
Stored in sealed bags, carrots should last for at least 10 days. Remember, don't store apples or pears or other ethylene producers near them.
When Is a Carrot Bad?
Sometimes, peeled carrots get a whitish tint to them. These vegetables don't have the protective outer layer of unpeeled carrots. Iowa State Extension reports that this is due to oxidation and may occur because of moisture loss from the outer skin of the carrots.
In addition, abrasion may damage cells on the surface of the carrot, according to McGill University. Neither of these affects the carrot's edibility or safety, though.
If your carrots look rubbery, they are still safe to eat but might not taste as good, according to Iowa State. In this case, you might want to use them in cooking since the taste is less likely to be affected.
When peeled carrots go bad, they have passed the point of being rubbery. At this point, they are slimy and soft. Iowa State Extension recommends that, when carrots become slimy, mushy or have an off-smell or look, you should not use them.
Baby Carrots Versus Peeled Carrots
Baby carrots are often peeled, cut carrots that you buy ready to eat. They are typically regular carrots, although they may not have that perfect carrot look, according to the Washington Post. Baby-cut carrots may be a more realistic name, the article points out. The carrots are machine-cut into 2-inch pieces, peeled and packaged.
The carrots are washed in water that contains a small amount of chlorine, a common practice in the food processing industry to prevent the spread of bacteria and other pathogens, according to McGill. Baby carrots were the idea of a California farmer who got tired of using carrots as animal feed because they didn't look marketable, according to the Washington Post. Thus, a market for peeled, ready-to-eat carrots was born.
You can wash the carrots after you pull them out of the bag and before you eat them. Peeling them, however, is personal preference, according to Tufts University. You can also peel your own or make your own baby carrots by slicing and peeling full-sized carrots, then storing them properly in the refrigerator.
Nutritional Value of Peeled Carrots
If having peeled carrots around makes you more likely to eat them, it's worth the trouble to peel and slice them in advance or buy them already peeled. Carrots pack a lot of nutritional punch.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, pre-cut veggies are full of nutrients. Also, eating a variety of colored vegetables maximizes your intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Carrots contain beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A in your body, which promotes eye health and may reduce your risk of cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. The potassium in carrots helps control blood pressure, and the vitamin C boosts your immune system. So peel those carrots ahead of time or buy those baby carrots and enjoy!
- Sweetwater Organic Community Farm: "Carrots"
- Iowa State University Extension: "Baby Carrots – Myths and Facts"
- McGill Office for Science and Society: "Mini Carrots, Max Nonsense"
- USDA: "Fresh Cut Produce"
- Mayo Clinic Minute: "Why You Should Pick Carrots for Good Health"
- Scientific American: "Why Do Apple Slices Turn Brown After Being Cut?"
- Washington Post: "Baby Carrots Are Not Baby Carrots"
- USDA: "Produce Information Sheets: Carrots"
- Cleveland Clinic: "7 Tips for Getting the Most Nutrition from Bagged and Pre-Cut Veggies"
- Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter: "Does Peeling Carrots Remove Nutrients?"
- USDA: "Peeled Baby Carrots"
- Joslin Diabetes Center: "How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels?"